Dangers of gambling ‘affordability checks’

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The proposed “affordability checks” in the UK will jeopardise the current low incidence of problem gambling, warns a trade leader.



Peter Hannibal, CEO of the Gambling Business Group, says the proposal, by the country’s Gambling Commission, will undo much of the positive work that has been achieved by the industry in partnership with the regulator, gambling agencies and charities.

The proposal is that players should be required to provide evidence that they can afford to play by the creation of a monthly discretionary spend ceiling. The cross-party think-tank the Social Market Foundation has recommended a ceiling of £23 a week.

Hannibal said: “I would like to stress from the outset that although the Gambling Commission’s affordability proposal has been framed in relation to online players, it would be naïve in the extreme to assume that the principles and philosophy will not be extended to all gambling entertainment activities across all verticals including adult gaming centres, licensed betting offices and bingo clubs in some shape or form.

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“While this proposal is wrong on virtually every level imaginable, the biggest concern for all those who genuinely care about safer gambling and continuing the UK industry’s internationally acclaimed success story in consistently maintaining problem gambling levels to below one per cent for the last three decades, is the impact affordability checks will have on driving players away from regulated and responsible sites to unregulated offshore sites.”

He added: “Currently the demand to play on unregulated sites is limited but the unintended and I assume unforeseen consequences of affordability checks will be to create such a market and then to sustain it.

“Make no mistake, this is prohibition by another name and wherever you look in the world prohibition has never worked and will never work, more often than not creating exactly the set of problems that it sets out to address.”

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